Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What Our Day Looks Like

When I first started changing our lives and routines over to a more Waldorf-style life, I scoured the internet for examples of how a day in the life of a Waldorf family went. What was this rhythm that I kept hearing and reading about? How is it implemented? I couldn't find much. There were some really awesome examples, don't get me wrong, just not many. So I thought I'd add mine to the bunch. I hope it helps anyone who is looking and happens across this post.

We start the day early because I take care of another little one who comes around 7:30 AM Monday through Friday. So I get up around 6:00, and let N sleep a while longer while I shower and get myself ready. When I am dressed and ready to go, I softly wake N, and we sit in bed and snuggle for a few minutes, letting him transition from asleep to awake gently.


We then start our morning rhythm by getting him dressed (we lay out his clothing for the next day during our bedtime routine, so it's an easy process in the morning), washing his face and brushing his teeth. After that is done, we head into the dining room, which is our makeshift playroom/preschool room at the moment, and we light our special morning-time candle and recite his morning verse (see below).

"The golden sun is shining
Up in the sky so blue.
Good morning, happy morning!
Good morning sun to you!"

He then eats his breakfast (often scrambled fresh local eggs, or a bowl of homemade gluten-free granola with lots of fresh berries and/or fruit) by candlelight, which he thinks is really special, and kind of anchors him in the moment. He's present in the moment, rather than distracted by an overly hyper-active cartoon on television (admittedly, how he spent more than one breakfast before the change).

After breakfast, if there is still time before our little friend shows up, we sometimes read a book, or water our plants, or (very occasionally) I let him play a game on our Kindle Fire. Our friend comes at 7:30 and, after his Mommy leaves, we take him on a walk around the neighborhood. If we don't do it right away it becomes too hot outside (such is life in the desert during Summer) and we don't get to take the walk at all, so we try to get out the door right after he arrives. On our walk, N loves to stop and look at plants, flowers, bushes, trees, bugs, and basically anything else that strikes his fancy. Soon I'm going to order a few Fandex guides for flower, tree, bug, and other identifications so we can learn while we are on our walks.

When we get home, we get big drinks of water, and get ready for Circle Time. This is something I'm still working on, as we are just now starting a preschool of sorts in our home and before there wasn't any structured time spent in this way. We sang songs, told stories, moved, but not at any particular time, just whenever it fit. Now that we are starting preschool, I wanted to incorporate Circle Time. It's kind of tricky with only one child (our friend is not yet a year, so he pretty much just watches us and laughs at some of the funnier movements), but so far we both like it. We start with an opening verse, the same one each time. We then do a seasonal verse that stays the same for about a month. This is followed by a few fun verses that have movements that go with them (lots of standing up, turning around, touching our toes, and so forth), and a story which I act out on our felt board or with little toys (like his little wooden peg people and gnomes and fairies). Sometimes I add in a song or two. Whatever we do, though, it stays the same for about a month, giving him plenty of time to learn the verses and songs. We close with our closing verse (always the same, all year long), and we move on to snack time, and then some free play.

Free play consists of N playing with his toys (blocks are a favorite, as are his puzzles, play kitchen, play silks, and "guys", which are his wooden peg people and accessories), and our little friend E spending some time on the floor (he isn't crawling yet, but it's coming soon!) with a few simple toys. Usually he gets a bottle around this time, as well, which gets him ready for his first nap, which is coming up.

While I lay E down for his first nap, N plays quietly or looks at books. After E is asleep, we read together. Right now we are working our way through Little House in the Big Woods. I wasn't sure that he was going to be old enough for it yet, but I really wanted to try (I am impatient to share things I love with him, I think), and he adores it! He especially loves hearing the stories that Pa tells Laura and her sisters, and anything having to do with animals (which is quite a bit when you live in the woods). After reading for a bit (usually a chapter or two), we do our Main Lesson.

In Waldorf preschool, the Main Lesson is all about real life. This is what we do on each day.

Mondays: Baking

Because of his eczema, we have to eat gluten free (and, we have found that the Primal/Paleo diet works best for us anyway, so there are no grains of any kind in our meals, save the occasional rice or quinoa), so we bake with almond and other nut flours, coconut flour, and a few other primal-friendly flours. Sometimes we bake cookies, sometimes we bake bread, sometimes we do something really special and make a cake or a pie. N helps measure ingredients, he stirs with a large wooden spoon, he helps me read the directions (yes, my nearly-four-year-old can read, which is not the Waldorf way in the least, but believe me when I tell you that I couldn't have prevented him from learning to read if I'd tried; he just wanted it and he figured it out with very little help from us, and can now read quite well), and helps to clean up when we're done. He loves it all.

Tuesdays: Laundry

N helps to sort the clothes into lights, darks, and linens. He helps to put a load into the washing machine, and he helps to pour the soap. He helps transfer the load into the dryer, with me pulling out an N-sized armful and handing it to him to put in the dryer. He then helps me fold and hang. He's not the best at folding, but fold he does, and he gets better at it every time. It still amazes me that he enjoys these things, but he does (and this is true of most children his age).

Wednesdays: Seasonal Craft or Activity

It might be leaf prints in the fall, or paper flowers in the spring. Maybe handprint paintings, or cotton ball snowmen in winter. Something that has to do with the season in which we are currently living. We talk about the season, sometimes having the same conversation each Wednesday for a few weeks because at this age, repetition is important to him. He likes repeating things he's learned, and hearing about those things all over again.

Thursdays: Water Coloring

I have yet to order some of the really good Stockmar paints (the price is what's holding me back, but they really are the best, so I'm sure I'll bite the bullet sometime here), but I have some decent quality paints from the craft store, and we use those for now. I trim the corners of our water color papers so that they are rounded (this keeps the child in their natural dreamy state, rather than the harsh corners which are very much awakening; it also draws their eyes inward, into what they are creating), and get them wet. I don't have any water color boards yet (they are on my list of must-buys), so we lay the papers down on some paper towels on top of a vinyl table cloth. We use one color at a time right now, so that he can really get a feel for each color, and what it is. Most recently we used blue. As we painted, I told him a story about a little blue boat that wanted to cross a wide blue river, but the river was moving too swiftly (at this point we painted from one side of the page to the other, with large swift strokes, just like the river). He didn't know what to do, so he slowly tried to inch his way across. The river swept him up though, and he got caught in a whirlpool a little ways down. He was stuck in the whirlpool now, and couldn't get out (now we use our brushes to make circles and swirls and spirals on the page, just like the whirlpool). A little Blue Jay saw him from above and wanted to help him, so he went to get some of his larger bird friends and they all pulled the little blue boat up out of the whirlpool (now we painted in strong upward strokes, like the birds pulling the boat out of the water). They set the boat down on the other side of the river (now painting with downward strokes), and he thanked them for helping him out. They were friends from that day forward. You'd be amazed at how much N enjoys such a simple story. He loves our water color days. Soon, we'll start mixing colors, and learn about those secondary colors that are created.


Friday: Laundry

Saturdays: Seasonal Craft or Activity

If we did a craft earlier in the week, I try to make Saturday an activity day. We don't have E on the weekends, so we are more able to do things that having a baby around doesn't allow.

Sundays: Family Time with Daddy

We might go up to the nearby mountains and have a picnic and a hike, or we might stay home and snuggle up on the couch together and watch a movie. As long as we are all together.

After our Main Lesson (E has usually awoken at some point in the middle of it), it's lunch time. We eat lunch, clean up, and then have another couple of hours of free play for both of them, while I work on something like cleaning, teaching myself to knit, or reading a book (right now I'm about half way through Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, which I highly recommend; it's a book every parent should read).

After free play, they both lay down for a nap (the second one for E). While they are sleeping, I get around to checking my email, facebook, etc., and anything else I want/need to do without little ones around.

When they awake, we read a couple of books (E likes to sit in my lap while I read to N, and try to grab things off the page, which makes N laugh). We have about two hours or so before E goes home, and we fill it with more free play (are you noticing just how much of this occurs during the day? Playing is so so so important for little ones for many many reasons).

Now it is just about time for E to go home. N has a snack before we head out for our evening walk. If it's summer time like it is now, the walk isn't far because it's still pretty hot at that time (usually around 5:00pm), but when the weather is more enjoyable, we will walk as long as N feels like it, so long as we are home in time to start dinner. We spend more time looking at flowers and bugs, and then we head home.

Dinner is usually ready just about when Daddy is getting home from work, and we all eat together, talking about our day. N likes to tell Daddy about all the funny things E did during the day, and what we read about in Little House in the Big Woods, or something he saw on our walk.

After dinner, it's time for our evening Circle, which consists of a few movement verses to help him get the last of his wiggles out, and a night time song (right now we like Moon Moon Moon, by the Laurie Berkner Band, which is super easy to learn, and has a fun part at the end about the moon looking like a pizza pie, which we change at random to silly things like rootbeer pie or flip flop pie, which always makes N laugh).

"Now the sun has gone to bed
The stars are shining overhead
In their nests, the birds all sleep
Into their homes, the snails will creep.
Children now no more will roam,
It's rest time now, and we're safe at home.
Mommy and Daddy, and I, in our house,
All settling down, quiet as a mouse."

Now we start our bedtime routine. A nice warm bath is followed by jammies and laying out clothes for the next day. We then light our bedtime candle, say our bedtime verse (see above), and have our bedtime tea (I like Serendipitea Strictly Strawberry; it's organic, caffeine free, and nice and fruity so N loves it) with a little raw local honey and a splash of milk. I first read about a family having evening tea a few months ago, and thought 'what a nice calming thing to do at the end of the day!', and wanted to add it to our routine, as well. I love it. We sit in the light of our bedtime candle, sipping our tea, and just enjoying each other's company. We don't say much, but talking is not forbidden. It's just such a calming experience that we are usually just content to be quiet and drink our tea. This sets the quiet, calm mood for getting into bed really nicely. We go into N's room, sing one more song (usually the same song that we sing in our evening circle, but sometimes he requests something else, like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or Baa Baa Black Sheep) and read one book (usually the same one for a week, which allows him to really take the book in, and also allows him to relax more and more as the week goes on, because he knows the story so well by the end of the week). Sometimes he drifts off while I'm reading, sometimes he stays up another half an hour or so after I'm done. I stay in his room with him until he's out. I know some parents who think this is coddling, but to me it is just what works for us. He feels content, and loved, and falls asleep easily. There is no fight, no struggle, no threatening (and believe me, we've had our fill of nights like those, from before we changed our lifestyle). Bedtime is peaceful. I usually bring the bedtime candle into his room with us, and read by it. I take it out when he falls asleep, and turn on his night light.

And then it's grown up time. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we read, sometimes we turn on the television (actually Daddy turns it on nightly to watch the news, but a lot of times it goes back off when it's over). It's so nice to have grown up time without having to deal with a toddler who doesn't want to go to sleep. It's amazing how much different our nights are now. Our entire lives have changed for the better since implementing a Waldorf-style of living, and I wouldn't change a thing. I think back to those long stressful, struggle filled nights of not too very long ago, and I wish I could whisper in my own past-self ear that this was the change we needed to alleviate the stress and bring peace into our family. It took some work at first, to make changes, but I can't even tell you how worth it it was.

The corner of our dining room with all our rhythm chart, our morning and evening verses, and some art projects
I hope this glimpse into our day will help someone else who is looking to make similar changes in their family, too.

Much love and kindness,

K

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Summer

I'm still getting the hang of the adapting the Waldorf way of celebrating the seasons for life in the desert. When it's 111° outside, it's not easy to spend a lot of time outdoors. I really am not cut out for desert life, but we moved here not for the climate, but for the family and friends that are near by. So here we will stay. For a while. We really are nomads, I think. Never content to stay in one place for very long. We like new places, new faces, new experiences. We always end up missing our people though, so I think this place will always be a home base of sorts. A place to which we can come back and get our fill of family and dear friends. And while we're here, we must live with the climate. Which brings me back to our summer so far.

Here are some of the things with which we've been occupying our time:

We colored some rice, and then played with it


We used some of our Rainbow Rice to make pictures, using a glue stick

We made beautiful window stars

We drove up to Grandma and Grandpa's house and spent quite a bit of time at a nearby community water park

We spent a little time at a playground near our house (when the weather gave us a rare non-face-melting day)

We collected pinecones at the park and brought them home

We made our pinecones into little pinecone gnomes

We finger painted

We made a hand kite with our hand dyed rainbow silk and a wooden ring finished with our homemade organic beeswax and coconut oil wood polish 

We made one for little E (my BFF's little one), with a shorter hand dyed silk, to teeth on

We added noses to our list of things with which we can paint

It's been a fun summer, in spite of the heat, but oh, how I long for fall!